Cyprus Mail

Cyprus urged to crack down on labour exploitation

A Council of Europe report on Cyprus urged authorities to step up efforts against trafficking for the purpose of labour exploitation, among other measures recommended in a report published on Friday.

The report noted that the number of identified victims of trafficking for the purpose of labour exploitation has been on the rise in Cyprus, and urged authorities to step up efforts against this human rights violation, and improve protection for child victims.

In its second evaluation report, the Council of Europe’s Group of Experts on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings (GRETA) called on Cypriot authorities to strengthen supervision of private employment agencies, increase labour inspections, and improve protection measures for domestic workers.

“According to the staff of the Office of the Commissioner for Administration and Human Rights, there are some 30,000 migrant women employed as domestic workers in Cyprus,” the GRETA report said.

“The Commissioner has received many complaints about severe exploitation of domestic workers. GRETA was informed that complaints lodged by domestic workers tend to be treated as a disagreement between employer and employee and that, in practice, it is difficult for foreign domestic workers to prevail in a legal dispute with their employers. The Commissioner for Administration and Human Rights has made several proposals to amend labour law and practice in this regard, but so far to no avail.”

Further, considering difficulties for victims of trafficking to receive compensation from perpetrators, GRETA urged Cypriot authorities to set up a victim compensation fund.

The expert group also recommended improving the procedure for the identification of child victims of trafficking, and their referral to assistance, by involving child specialists and child protection services.

In its report on Cyprus, GRETA praised progress made over the last four years in implementing the Council of Europe’s Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings, following the publication of GRETA’s first evaluation report in September 2011.

The Cypriot authorities were commended for further developing the legal framework for combating trafficking in human beings, in accordance with GRETA’s recommendations, and for adopting a new, comprehensive anti-trafficking law to make measures more effective.

“The Commissioner for Children’s Rights’ concerns noted in the first GRETA report, that unaccompanied irregular migrant minors are at risk of becoming victims of [trafficking of human beings], were repeated during GRETA’s second visit,” the report noted.

“Those among them who are not asylum seekers remain in custody until travel documents have been issued. The official figures on the number of unaccompanied minors in holding centres for irregular migrants or refugees are often inaccurate and the Commissioner for Children’s Rights has published a report and made public statements in this regard, stating that a part of the problem is that the migration legislation is not sufficiently detailed. The UNHCR office in Cyprus shares these concerns as regards unaccompanied children, especially those of Somali or Syrian origin.”

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